Friday, May 12, 2017

That Left Turn at Albuequerque... Excuses for Neglecting Thoroughly Modern Millie

Ah, I KNEW I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuequerque!! 

Bugs Bunny in "Bully for Bugs" (1953)
So I don't have great things to show for myself today because I've been lost in rabbit holes, like Bugs Bunny in "Bully for Bugs."  I've been taking care of my husband, running errands, attending school orchestra concerts, overseeing drapery installations and specifying paint colors for my interior design clients, and doing lots of other things that really do need to get done.  But I've also been avoiding that left turn down the hall to my studio, where Thoroughly Modern Millie (my recently acquired APQS Millenium longarm quilting machine) has been waiting patiently for me since Bernie set her up for me on April 18th.  I still haven't plugged in the machine, let alone turned it on and started quilting. 

My Naked Millie, Waiting to Play
So, aside from other responsibilities, what's standing in my way?  Well, right after we set up the machine, my husband went into the hospital for a week for major heart surgery.  I was barely home at all that week.  And after that, I was trying to be disciplined about finishing my reorganization of the studio before I started playing with the new machine.  That involved going through my hoard of garment patterns and fabric, ditching outdated and unflattering patterns and fabrics and matching up the patterns and fabric that remained so that there's actually a chance of making some of those garments one of these days.

But I have to confess that there has also been a bit of -- well, if not fear, then at least trepidation.  We were in a bit of a rush when we swooped in to pick up the machine from my APQS dealer, and I arranged to postpone my full day of training until after Bernie had recovered from surgery.  In hindsight, that was probably a mistake, because I didn't have a chance to get familiar with the parts of the machine, how to load a quilt onto the frame, and the very basic details of how to operate the controls.  Don't get me wrong -- my dealer showed me all of this stuff when I first came to look at the machines a couple of months ago, but there's a certain amount of information overload when you are still in the phase where you haven't decided which model machine you're going to buy, let alone which model.  I wasn't paying attention to those specific operating details, and I expected that information to be in the manual.  And it IS in the manual, some of it...  Sort of!

The printed spiral bound manual that comes with the machine only covers the setup and assembly information, which is kind of silly, IMO, since the APQS dealer handles that for most customers anyway (my husband is "handy" and wasn't inclined to pay the setup fee, and he needed a project to get his mind off the upcoming surgery anyway).  The information about loading quilts as well as operating and maintaining the machine is only found in the digital version of the user manual, which I received loaded onto a flash drive.  I finally got around to pulling that up on my computer yesterday and emailing the PDF to my Kindle account so I could read it on my iPad upstairs.  That was a little annoying.  I think I'm going to have to print out some of those pages so I can highlight, take whatever notes, and refer to them more easily.

And one really weird omission?  The APQS Millenium user manual neglects to tell you how the controls work to run the machine.  In the Appendix there are instructions for the old style controls on the pre-2012 Millenium machines, but no instructions for how to work the controls on the current models! 

APQS Millenium, Adjustable Handles with Toggle Switches and Touch Screen Controls
I was able to find a YouTube video explaining that last night, and it's really simple, but it would have been nice if that information was in the user manual!!  There are toggle switches on the right and left handles at the front and back side of the machine. 

Each Toggle Switch has a White Dot on Top
All four toggle switches work in the same way, so you can easily quilt with either hand.  If you push up towards the white dot, the machine takes a half stitch up or down.  If you push downward, the machine will start or stop sewing.  Oh, and whatever needle position you have when you start quilting is the needle position the machine will stop in.  So sink your needle before you press the start/stop button, and the needle will stop in the down position as well.  The touch pad controls on the front and back of the machine for turning on and off the Stitch Regulator, Quilt Glide, Low Bobbin Indicator, adjusting stitch length (in regulated mode) or machine speed (in manual mode) are all pretty self explanatory as well, and I like that the operation of the machine is so well thought out and user friendly.  However, it would be nice if all of that was on a "getting to know your machine" page in the user manual.

There are step-by-step instructions for different methods of loading quilts onto the frame in the digital manual as well, so now that I know how to load a quilt and how to work the machine, I feel like I have the information I was missing to get started.

I bought an 80/20 cotton/poly King sized batting from JoAnn's for practice, so I'm going to piece together some bright colored "positive energy" solid fabrics for a giant practice quilt and get that loaded onto my machine.  Hopefully that will happen TODAY!  Wish me luck, and no more rabbit holes to get me sidetracked!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I have heard of a lot of the quilters that get the long arms set up a practice quilt - that is a good idea - maybe you need to see if you can go back in for a tutorial? hope all goes well and that Bernie is recovering nicely

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts said...

I totally understand your trepidation. My machine came in a week ago and is still sitting at the dealer's shop....for some reason I'm in NO hurry to have it delivered. How weird is that?? Sounds like you have a great suggestion to send to the manufacturer for their manual. A 'getting to know your machine' page is a great idea. I hope you have time to put your practice top together, load it, and then have a blast practicing on Millie! She looks excited to get to work. ;)

Janice Holton said...

Oh boy, that is one of my pet peeves. Incomplete instructions! (especially in patterns) Well, thank goodness you got it all figured out. I am looking forward to seeing your practice quilt! Are you going to show it to us even if you think it's horrible? :)

suzanne, dutchess county NY said...

Before I got my longarm I joined a forum for that brand on yahoo. It helped me tremendously. Folks in the group talked about their troubles, tips, added photos and tags and links to videos. Don't feel like your a coward. We have all been there. Playing with the machine and practice will help. Even those who have been at it awhile ( me) get that awkward feeling if I haven't been using the machine for an extended period I still get " stage fright" here's to hoping your routine becomes more normal and you get some well deserved " me" creative time.